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Our Dogs Killed our Goats - Looking for Support  RSS feed

 
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This is my first time posting on this forum, and unfortunately it is under a sad topic.

Me and my wife have two dogs a German Shepard and a Staffordshire Terrier.  We have had them for almost 5 years.  It was through our dogs that we meet at the dog park.  They actually introduced us, and we have been married now for almost two years.  We both wanted to start our own homestead and two years ago bought a few acres with a home to create our own little homestead.  Obviously the dogs came with.  About 9 month back we added to our property 2 baby goats that we were going to start our herd from.  We installed an in ground electric fence to separate the dogs from the area the goats and chickens had.  We knew that they would not get along, and we needed to keep the separate.  The goats and chickens have their own fenced in acre. Everything seemed to be ok until last week we were on vacation and got a call from our friend who was watching the animals for us that she came home to find the dogs in the fenced in area for the goats, and the goats were dead.  We are both heartbroken that the dogs would do that, and we are at a loss of what to do.  We want to continue to follow our passion and keep goats on the property but don't know if that is possible with the dogs at this point.

I guess I am reaching out to see if anyone else has gone through this or if anyone has any advice or tips or what to do.

Thanks in advance

Jordan
 
pollinator
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I don't know about goats but everything I've read and seen with dogs says that unless the dog has a "care for others" attitude, it's very hard to get a dog used to a prey-type animal once it has grown up. The fact that you knew your dogs and goats wouldn't mix suggests this isn't likely to be possible for you.

That means you'd need to protect your goats. Since German shepherds are really smart and amstaffs are tenacious, you're talking about a serious fence.

I wonder if maybe another stock animal would work -- something much larger than a dog? The appeal might be greatly reduced if, say, what was inside the fence was a couple of adult horses or cattle. Both are readily available in at least some areas. Of course they eat a lot more, but depending on your situation and needs that might be one way to keep stock and your dogs.
 
pollinator
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Sadly yes, and it was a German Shepard as well.

Really the dog was my wife's animal and after it killed several chickens and ducks she said, "get him out of here." I knew what she meant and I said, "he won't be coming back", and she said she did not care. He made a one way trip up into one of our fields. I told him, "you screwed up today buddy..."

A dog that kills cannot be trusted, and that not only includes livestock but children as well. Just last month a K9 dog took an infant out of a crib and nearly killed it and that dog is scheduled to be put down. There is enough liability on a farm with rates incredibly high. One of the issues with owning ANY animal is realizing we as humans must be responsible for them. Sometimes it means end of life care.

It sounds cold, but I have been on this forum for just about a year now and should really save this reply in a file because it crops up a lot. Sadly, once they make a choice, some dogs just cannot be trusted anymore.
 
pollinator
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I am sorry to say that I second what Travis says.  Once a dog learns about the "sport" of hunting and killing small livestock, no amount of training will get that safely out of their brain.  It clicks with something too instinctual. They will never be totally safe ever again.  And dogs will teach each other this behavior.  If you train them before they ever taste a kill, I do believe they can be trained, even adult dogs.  But not once they have started.  And we also never feed our animals raw meat when we slaughter.  We roast or boil waste product so they never get the "hmm, tastes like chicken" thought in their heads.  I had a beautiful dog who was raised with poultry and never bothered them... Until one day one of the kids fed him a raw duck head.  Two days later, he killed a duck.  Ditto with raw eggs.  I hate egg thieves.

I won't keep any dogs or cats that endanger my livelihood.  We have pretty good luck with raising them ourselves and training them.  But two dogs and two cats have been ousted from the homestead in the last six years.
 
gardener
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I have to agree with Maureen and Travis. I also think it's possible to have a setup where they can co-habitate, but you may need to redesign the electric fence. Do you know where the weak link they exploited was in the fence? You mentioned the goats have an entire acre, so I envisioned your fence is single lateral strands and not the net type. Perhaps doubling the number of strands and also making sure the strands go 5 or 6 feet high to discourage jumping over. What happened is very disheartening and discouraging, but don't give up. I believe a revised method can work, but the dogs will always be high risk for small livestock and chickens.
 
pollinator
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I would certainly build a good fence before I would kill my dogs.
 
steward
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A solid fence where they can't see each other is probably your best bet.  That, and as much distance as you can afford to put between the predators and prey.  If the prey know there's predators around, you'll have a hard time keeping both parties calm.  The goats will be nervous and stressed and the dogs will do their best to get at them eventually.  Dig, jump, climb or go through, they'll come up with something.  Either way, it's stressful on everyone.  Not to mention, that you'll be concerned about it happening again, which will add to your own stress. 

Maybe a larger animal like an alpaca or something else with some kicking strength would be a good goat substitute.  I guess then, it's the dogs that are in for it.  Tough decisions.
Sorry for your loss and I hope you find a good solution that works for all of you.
 
 
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We lost an entire litter ($1,050.00 worth) of new born hogs to one of our dogs (Boxer/Lab) last year.
We still have the dog and since his sister died of cancer, got a replacement, Catahoula Leopard Dog.
These dogs are "watch dogs" not LGD's and we keep good fences between them and our AGH registered hogs, chickens also are fenced to keep the dogs away.

Fences for keeping dogs out need to be at least 6 feet high and with one foot buried in the ground, with an additional layout piece of fence so the dogs would have to tunnel to get inside the fenced area.
Two electric wires are another way to keep dogs out of where they don't belong but you need a large enough shock charge to just about lay them out so we didn't go that direction "so far".

It is sad but there will be occasions where you have to get rid of the dog to save the live stock. You have to decide which way to go, fences or bye - bye dog(s).
We choose to do the fence and so far it works well.

If you want to try guard animals that will live with the live stock, donkeys are just about perfect, one or two kicks will discourage most all dogs.
There is a down side to this approach as well, a donkey can kill a dog just like they kill coyotes, so if the dogs were to persist, they might be injured, bitten in the neck, kicked hard enough to break their back, etc.

Homesteaders always have to face hard decisions and I am saddened that you now have some of these to make. I wish you good luck and wise choices.

Redhawk
 
Craig Dobbson
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I wonder if you had a livestock guardian dog, and made that dog the pack leader (after you of course), if that would help deter the other dogs from the bad behavior?  I have a Maremma that works with my other critters and helps to keep predators away.  He raids fox dens and steals coyote kills, but has never considered any of our domestic critters as food.  He'll go out in the morning and come back with a whole deer leg AND share it with the chickens.  It's hilarious to watch a chicken push an eighty pound dog out of the way of the fatty bits.  And he just moves over... silly dog.  He knows the difference between food and friends even though we give him scraps from when we butcher rabbits, chickens, ducks and pigs.  He won't mess with them while they are alive.  Maybe a pack leader like that will help get your dogs in line so you can have some peace.
 
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There is nothing quite so heartbreaking as losing an animal under your care to a predator.  Except, perhaps if that predator is one of your trusted family.  Sending kind thoughts to you during this tough time.

I don't think you can trust these dogs to be alone near livestock or children - not unless they have a very good fence and other securities.  If that happened locally, the dog would either be put down or legally required to wear a muzzle when not eating. 

It's a tough decision you have.  On one hand, you want to raise livestock, on the other, you can't trust your dogs again. 

It's also very difficult because you weren't there so you don't know how the dogs got in with the goats.  Could it be a moment of inattention on the part of your farm sitters?  Even if it wasn't the dogs fault or the fence's weakness, the dogs have killed and feasted on flesh.  It's awoken their instinct to hunt and I would be hard pressed to trust them again. 



 
Jordan Czeczuga
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Thank you all for the responses.  This definitely a challenging time, and one that is extremely hard since it was our dogs that we love. 

Has anyone every found another home for their dogs.  I just don't want to put them down, and they are loving dogs.  They just do not do well with livestock. 
 
Travis Johnson
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The rule on my farm is pretty straightforward: I do not pass problem animals (pets or livestock) off to anyone else.

The problem is not whether the animal can be trusted at your farm, the question is whether the animal can be trusted at all. You feel horrible now, but what if the animal was passed off to a friend who later had a baby and the dog injured it? Or your friend decided to get animals? Or your friend had neighbors that moved in and got animals that your dog later killed? The potential scenarios go on and on (not to mention the potential liability being traced back to you). How would you feel if these scenarios came to reality??

This is one of the reasons why in most of the dog versus human cases a judge has to order the dog to be put down, his verdict takes the emotion out of a hard decision.

 
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I've had numerous dogs in my life, but growing up on a farm and in a farming family we learned that if the dogs killed livestock they got a hotdog (last meal), and a bullet.

I have two Catahoula Leopard Dogs one is about 2 years and the other is only about 8 months, I have chickens right now but we've always raised Dairy goats in the past. You just gotta keep on them when they are young and they get the picture.

My favorite way to get a dog is when its young, and you still have an older dog thats used to the livestock. The older dogs tends to teach the younger one lots about behavior towards the stock.

Dogs that kill livestock are like egg sucking dogs, We had an egg sucking dog one time (yellow lab). We did all sorts of things to try and break her of it, we even blew the guts out of and egg and filled it with hot sauce and tobacco juice. She seemed to like the spice, she ate that whole egg.

 
pollinator
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Jordan said......"Has anyone every found another home for their dogs.  I just don't want to put them down, and they are loving dogs.  They just do not do well with livestock. "

Yes. In the past 12 years I have either found homes for dozens and dozens of such dogs or aided in finding homes. I volunteer for an organization called Kares, who offers rescue, neutering, and help for dogs in need. So around here, livestock killing dogs get rehomed successfully all the time. An example : a close friend of mine adopted a young dog that was not good with livestock. That dog went on to become a fantastic companion and farm dog for her. It's been ten years since she acquired the dog and redirected its behavioral problem. So yes, these dogs can have successful lives when placed into a different environment.

Every dog is different. I've seen some that were easy to train and safely rehome. But I've seen others that could never be trusted around livestock again. I've seen some that would attack only particular livestock species (for example, one of my own dogs is death to chickens but friendly to piglets, lambs, and kittens). And others who would transfer they aggression to even children. It all depends upon the individual dog.
 
Todd Parr
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Jordan Czeczuga wrote:Thank you all for the responses.  This definitely a challenging time, and one that is extremely hard since it was our dogs that we love. 

Has anyone every found another home for their dogs.  I just don't want to put them down, and they are loving dogs.  They just do not do well with livestock. 



Many, many people will have a place in their home for a good dog that hates livestock, children, other dogs, whatever.  You just have to be honest with them upfront.  A person that doesn't have chickens doesn't care if your dogs hate chickens.
 
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Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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I'm so sorry you've gone through this. It's really tough.

We always need to remember what various dog breeds were created to do. Those instincts and impulses are very powerful within the different breeds. People who advocate for certain breeds always seem to forget that those breeds have been shaped for generations to have specific behavioral characteristics. They are what they are; we can't change their natures just by hoping or wishing or believing that they can be different. Good training helps, but it won't eliminate natural behaviors.

Staffordshire terriers, like pit bulls and associated "bully" breeds, were created specifically to fight and kill other animals. It's my opinion that they shouldn't be kept on the same property as vulnerable animals that might fall prey to them. You didn't know your dog would behave this way--I understand that. And it's a shock to see a trusted pet behave this way, too. But he was doing what is natural for his kind.

Many German Shepherds are from protection/working/police-dog lines (rather than the original sheep-herding lines the breed started with) and have similar levels of drive and aggression.

I agree with Todd--it would be best at this point to find your dogs good homes with people who don't have livestock, children, cats, or other dogs, and be very clear with them about the dogs' histories. Be sure the people you give them to are well prepared to handle dogs that have shown aggression toward other animals, and understand what that entails. Lots of people are prepared to welcome dogs like this into their homes and can provide them safe, happy lives where they won't be tempted to attack other animals again.

I really do feel for you guys, since you met through these dogs. I know what a shock it is when a trusted dog exhibits unexpected behaviors. I used to be a dog trainer, so I saw this often. It's sad--but a lesson learned. Future dogs for your home should all be from carefully bred livestock lines with no propensity toward intra-species aggression.
 
pollinator
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Owning animals of any kind is entirely about managing problems. 

Your dogs are adults and were not trained at a young age to behave around livestock.  Even purpose-bred dogs require some pretty vigilant training.

It's not their fault and it does not mean that they are bad dogs or that you are bad dog owners; it means you made a mistake in how you manage your animals.  Given that dogs, as a species, have a consistent track record of making Bad Doggy choices, it would probably be wise to develop a plan to contain your dogs any time you cannot supervise them rather than let them have the run of the property.   You might need to invest in better fencing for future goats or...more easily...fencing for your dogs.  They lived happy doggy lives before they had the run of your homestead; they can again. 

Best of luck to you.  Don't beat yourself up too badly.
 
Todd Parr
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Libbie Hawker wrote:
Staffordshire terriers, like pit bulls and associated "bully" breeds, were created specifically to fight and kill other animals. It's my opinion that they shouldn't be kept on the same property as vulnerable animals that might fall prey to them. You didn't know your dog would behave this way--I understand that. And it's a shock to see a trusted pet behave this way, too. But he was doing what is natural for his kind.



This is true to some degree, but there are many exceptions to the rule.  My two dogs are purebred APBTs and they are completely reliable around my cats, chickens, and children.  They don't chase the wild rabbits from my yard, they don't bother the deer.  They happily go with me to feed the chickens and walk around them like they aren't even there even the chickens are free-ranging on my two acres.  My dogs were around 6 and 7 when I got chickens for the first time.  My female can be somewhat dog aggressive and I know it, so I don't let her associate with other dogs.  Her son is the younger of the two, and he is fine with other dogs.  It is absolutely true that breed propensities exist, but it is critical to know your own dog.
 
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I think it's significant, and I'm not sure anyone has mentioned this, that the incident happened while you were away.  You as pack leaders, to whom the goats belonged, were absent for long enough that the dogs (not respecting the animal sitter) decided that you had relinquished the goats and they could "inherit" them. 
 
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Please call me if anything said on this thread has you feeling burdened with guilt or at all considering slaughtering your beloved dogs. 412 804 8883 i keep a pack of 7 pitbulls with goats, sheep, cats and chickens. They have all tasted fresh blood from errors in the design or deployment of my vision. We all coexist. Anything is possible. Never give up!
 
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Super sad but kind of odd. If your German Shepard has been with you for so long, they know what you like or care for. Animals feel that. Especially a solid dog like a German Shephard. When my grandpa passed away he was very sad. One year on the exact date (Grandpa's death anniversary) he just went crazy. Not crazy violent but just wouldn't stop running around and barking. Sadly we had to put him down at that point . . . I don't think your dog killed those goats. I don't believe it. Do you have any proper evidence of that?
 
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I don't have any words of advice for you, but I'm so very sorry that you're going through this.
 
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I am of the exact opposite opinion. Dogs need to be introduced to livestock. You are unlikely to be able to build a strong enough enclosure, if money and effort are any sort of issue, that you can raise a herd of goats for years and never have them encounter your dogs. If one does not break in, the other will break out.

The trick is to have your dogs spend as much supervised time with the livestock as possible. And by this I mean with no barriers between them. Also, this will teach your livestock to not run away and act as prey animals, at least to the same degree. Puppies, and dogs new to the experience, will attack animals, and must be scolded and smacked or otherwise informed of their misbehavior. I do not think it matters if they have killed anything, it matters if you have trained them to kill animals and/or their kill experience was a positive or negative one.

A dog is not going to see you loading hay into a feeder and then intuit that the creatures that then eat the hay are not to be eaten. You must teach then individually and specifically what animals are to be left alone.

Chickens are a good animal to start with as dogs seem to really enjoy holding them down and pulling their feathers out. Good in that this creates lots of noise and takes a while to get fetal. You should not have to catch the (adult) dogs doing this more than once or twice to train them that chickens are not toys.
 
Hester Winterbourne
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A small pen with a pair of rams is also a good lesson.
 
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Yes our newest hunting pup was caught chasing the goat so I helped the goat pin her in a corner and give her a good going over with her horns. She now gives the goats a very wide berth and they are all in the same paddock but with the dogs on chains when we aren't home.
 
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Ive noticed the dates on this are from awhile ago.. & im not sure if this will reach anyone but this is the closest thing to what Im looking for so maybe I can get an answer..
My sister had a dog named Zeke, I wanna sound hes german shepherd & bloodhound mix.. Well the dog next door was in heat & he drove her crazy whining so she asked if we'd take him for awhile.. Long story short, we have him permanently now.
We also have two pygmy goats, one slightly smaller than the dog & one way smaller than the dog. The baby goat I noticed was laying on his side this.morning, not breathing or moving.. I didnt have the heart to bury him so I waited til my boyfriend got home ( Dont judge me, Im seneitive when it coms to stuff like that ).. He got home & we walked out to the goat & his snout ( i guess thats what youd call it ) was completely gone. No bones left, no blood leaking anywhere, no nothing. It seriously looked like a clean cut. one of his horns was completely gone & the other was half way gone. I noticed the other goats horns looked like they had been chewed on.. Knowing dogs chew on bones, we thought maybe Zeke got ahold on the goat & is the reason he looked the way he did. But could he have done that ? Im scared bc I have an almost 5 month old & I too believe once a dog does something like that, they cant be trusted. I just dont know forsure if it was him or not bwcause he hasnt had any blood on him..
 
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It is my experience that you either have a farm, or you have pets. Farms have animals that are productive and help you make a living and afford farm life. Pets are just nice to have around. On a farm all the animals (and gardens and shops and barns, for that matter) need to do their job. Anything that makes the farm less productive or harder to run, ...needs to go. For me, I don't trust dogs. We have very many visitors here. Dogs scare them. We have lots of babies here: children, lambs, kids, calves, chicks. Dogs (could) eat them. And once they do get a taste for blood, they will never lose it. We keep cats. Visitors like them. The cats do their job. They eat mice and rats, so we don't lose feed, and don't have "food" for snakes. Cats are a win/win. Dogs, not so much.
 
Todd Parr
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Jim Fry wrote:It is my experience that you either have a farm, or you have pets. Farms have animals that are productive and help you make a living and afford farm life. Pets are just nice to have around. On a farm all the animals (and gardens and shops and barns, for that matter) need to do their job. Anything that makes the farm less productive or harder to run, ...needs to go. For me, I don't trust dogs. We have very many visitors here. Dogs scare them. We have lots of babies here: children, lambs, kids, calves, chicks. Dogs (could) eat them. And once they do get a taste for blood, they will never lose it. We keep cats. Visitors like them. The cats do their job. They eat mice and rats, so we don't lose feed, and don't have "food" for snakes. Cats are a win/win. Dogs, not so much.



There are farmers and ranchers that will tell you they couldn't keep animals without their dogs.  A dog can be as productive, or not, as you teach it to be.  Could you explain how they make a farm less productive or harder to run?  Kids are far less productive and a lot harder to care for for a lot more years than dogs are if your only criteria for having something around is "ease of use".

As far as your visitors, in the cut-and-dry scenario you gave of anything that makes the farm less productive or harder to run has to go, I would say visitors fit that bill better than dogs.  You are right that dogs scare some people.  So do cows, horses, chickens, other people, loud noises, spiders, clowns, heights...I have a good friend that is terrified of cats.

The old "taste for blood" story is a myth in my own experience.  One of my pitbulls killed a chicken once when I first got chickens.  I scolded him and started taking him with me every day when I took care of the chickens.  That was about 4 years ago and he hasn't even looked at a chicken since.  When my chickens are free ranging in my yard, my dogs are loose with them and don't pay them any attention at all.  I also feed my dogs deer bones with the raw meat still on them after butchering them.  Since they are tasting deer blood, should that have given them a taste for all blood, or just deer blood?  I would assume all blood tastes much the same?

I too like cats and have them, but I'm not sure I would call it a "win/win".  There is an entire thread on permies debating whether cats are "permie" or not.  Every advantage you list for your cat could be easily filled by a rat terrier or other small rodent-killer, without the disadvantage of killing hundreds of birds and shitting in the garden.
 
pollinator
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Yeah, I'm going to have to go with Todd on this one, Jim, at least about the dogs versus cats argument.

Taking a different tack on that one, we can't have a dog in our current small apartment because I don't want anything tiny. Been there, done that. I want my next dog to be a LGD, probably like a Komondor or Great Pyrenees. So our choice is between one specific type of hypoallergenic cat that I can live with, a Russian Blue, or a large litter-trained rabbit, probably something like a Flemish Giant.

We're going the rabbit route. The deciding factor is cat shit. Not kidding. I have also had two cats previously, and I loved them both dearly, and I have also had to deal with a neighbour who thought the funniest thing in the world was listening to me rant and rave about her cat shit in my garden.

Carnivore feces is nasty, nasty stuff. Needless to say, rabbit bedding and droppings are going to be a boon for the garden.

If I get a cat again, it will not be a first choice. I will definitely look for a dog that can do, say, barn cat duties like guarding the grain stores from vermin. I always wanted a Maine Coon, but I would have to have a lot of very dangerous, aggressive, small-to-medium sized predators troubling me to justify that. The cost in collateral environmental damage is just too high.

Jordan, I am sorry to hear about your situation. I neither think this is an easy fix, sorry to say, nor do I think you need to rehome or euthanise your dogs. But it's probably a good idea to make sure that those dogs aren't left in a position where their respect for you as pack leader is the only thing keeping them from a fresh kill, because as mentioned, it might not necessarily be livestock at risk.

I think the observation about them taking your absence to mean that they now owned the goats is valid. Dogs are individual entities, and at least semi-sentient, in my opinion. You can tell when a dog has been raised with what it considers an appropriate amount of leadership from the pack leader by it's bearing.

But if you are to keep the dogs, I agree that you need to go the barrier route, and that fencing in or chaining the dogs when you're not immediately about is probably the most effective method available to you.

I especially like the idea of including a guardian animal. I don't know about alpacas, but I know that if you get a single llama, they will adopt the rest of the livestock into their herd. Interestingly enough, if you have two llamas, they identify as separate from the rest, and won't perform the guardian function.

I think this issue is especially tough with adult dogs. I don't think that an old dog can't be taught, but it is difficult.

Good luck to all with issues in this area.

-CK
 
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Location: Bitterroot Valley, MT
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In our experience, older dogs can be trained to be trusted around small livestock. It takes great partience, resolve and daily consistency, but it CAN be done! Take them into the goat enclosure on their leashes each day and let them slowly become imprinted with the goats as friends and companions. As they are around them in a supervised situation, they will get to know the goat's personalities, and that there is much more to them than a good chase and kill. They will grow to recognize them as on an equal footing with themselves, although slightly lower in the pecking order. They will come to learn that the goats matter to you as they see and experience with you their daily care. As you correct any aggressive behavior they'll come to know it is NOT ok with you, the pack leader, to do that. Slowly the agression will abate. They will eventually bond with them. But it takes very consistent training and constant experiences among them seeing you as the caregiver. We had a lab that attacked two of our chickens and killed them. We worked with him until he knew they were part of "his pack", along with his family. He was fine from that point forward, and even protected them from a fox once when they were free-ranging.

When you have dogs that are special pets and share significant memories, you don't want to give them away. You will never forgive yourself and feel a pang of guilt and sadness every day when you don't see them running and playing in the field. The memories will haunt you. Don't go there. Build a stout fence, and take the dogs with you into the enclosure every day and work with them. Introduce them face to face, let them sniff each other and make eye contact. Rub the goats with your hands, then rub the scent all over your dogs. And vice-versa with the dogs. Little by little they will imprint with the goats and or chickens. My corgi, who chased and killed chickens when she first encountered them at 2 years old, became so good with them! She helps me herd them and tenderly re-directs the chicks back when they wander too far, as if she were their mother. It is learned behavior, and can overcome instinct. That's not to say every dog can be rehabilitated, but with care and determination most can, so take heart!

Oh, and a final note... Don't ever leave the dogs on the farm when you are away. Board them somewhere, unless you are absolutely sure they are fully bonded and safe together. With adequate training, they can BECOME your livestock guardians. Then and only then, can you leave them together. Not sure about the pitty, but the shepherd should bond fine. It's worth a try though with the pit! If the shepherd gets it, and they are bonded together as companions, the pit will adopt the shepher's behavior as they imprint on each other. It just may take longer, and he may have to learn it from the other dog, not from you.

Well, that's my two cents worth. I have learned through painful regret that I can't just ditch a family member who happens to have fur, sharp teeth and claws, and is causing trouble. At least not without giving it your best shot first, so you will have the peace of knowing you did absolutely everything you could. <3
 
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My father had chickens and his dogs like to hang around the coop waiting for a a stupid chicken to escape, what fun!
Until a very mean chicken escaped and from that day on the dogs stayed far, far away from the coop.

Joke is that the chickens belonged to my Father's girlfriend and at breakfast one day he told me he didn't really like eggs.
 
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Lots of posts on this topic and i'll admit I havn't read them all! But I wanted to offer some insight from a dog trainers POV. First off, and this always sounds harsh....Its NEVER the dogs fault. Its yours. Obviously you didn't know this would happen and it was a 100% mistake...To stop in in the future (as I'm sure many posts state) you're going to need a fence. A good one. GSDs are incredibly smart and Staffies are incredibly determined. I would suggest taking measures to make sure they cannot dig under the fence (underground wire fence?). Second step if these were my dogs is to figure out which is the aggressor and which is the follower and SEPERATE them during the following training. You need to teach the aggressor first that the livestock are YOURS and not to be touched/looked at at ALL. You should obviously not be letting these dogs near livestock in the future, but mistakes happen and to avoid another death you need to teach the dogs to avoid the livestock. Depending on your dogs this can be (and should be) done 2 ways. First way is the "nice" way. Positive reinforcement. The tricky part is you are not (as weird as this seems) rewarding for the dog tolerating or being positive toward your livestock. You are rewarding for him taking his attention off the livestock and on to you. You want to use "markers" to mark the behavior, if you don't know what this is, look up "clicker training" to read the basics. Clickers are great because they are consistent but you don't always have a clicker, do you? Work on using the word "Yes" in the same way as the click and be CONSISTENT. Its not about the word its about the consistency of the sound. (This is called Classical Conditioning and is basically based off of Pavlovs Dog experiment if your interested). A session would consist of you taking the dog out NEAR the livestock and find the distance in which he knows they are there, but is still able to be redirected to you with either food or a toy. The session consists of you asking for your dogs attention when he observes the livestock and then marking and rewarding his obedience. Do this as often as possible, slowly closing the distance (all animals should be either on leash or fenced off during this) until you can get focus from the dog while he is VERY close to the livestock. Do this for both dogs in SEPERATE sessions. The "follower" will be the easy dog and may be fine with just this step before he looses interest (or never had interest at all). To be safe I would still move on to the next step, though it shouldnt be hard for that dog. (If both dogs are the aggressors and both are intensely interested in the livestock, do both steps for both of them. And keep in mind they will feed off eachother just as a "follower" dog will do whatever the aggressor is doing.) Next step is "proofing". For this stage we use an e-collar. I've already amassed a wall of text and e-collars are very complex and misunderstood tool in dog training, so you may want to do some intense research or hire a professional. But the idea is you find the dogs "working level" on the collar, which is the lowest level of stim he physically responds to. Now before I get a slew of hate-comments, ecollars have drastically changed with the years and offer a HUGE range of stimulation. A good collar should go from 1-100, with 1 being barely or not even felt on human skin. Once you find the dogs working level, the proccess is the same as positive reinforcement training we were doing before, only now we are using escape avoidance to clarify to the dog that he is not allowed to interact with the livestock in ANY way. (Your dog should be taught what escape avoidance is and how to "shut pressure off" before the e-collar is introduced. This is easy, a common one is "leash pressure sensitivity" exercises, you can look that up. There are also many steps to setting up e-collar work like making sure the dog does not become "collar wise" Do your research or hire a professional) Now for the actual session. The concept is simple. We use "continuous stimulation" on a level right above the dogs working level while the dog is paying mind to the livestock and only shut it off when the dog diverts his attention away, onto something else. This requires precise timing to avoid your dog making "suspicious associations" which is when you mess up and your dog associates the stim with something else. But if done correctly, the stim is not horribly painful, its uncomfortable and the dog learns he can turn it off at any time by complying. In this case, dont look at the livestock!!! Both dogs should be trained and proofed in this way in case of an escape/future mistake. Sorry if this was a bit long and if you are not familar with dog training I am NOT recommending you do the e-collar training yourself. I just wanted to make it known this behavior IS correctable and proper measures can be taken to lower the risks of another death by the dogs. Obviously this is only if proper precautions are taken and the dogs are not allowed unsupervised near the animals. There must be consistent as well. You cant do this training then just let the dog oogle livestock a month later haha

I realize everyones set-up is different and my suggestions my not work for you. But maybe they might work for/inspire someone else!!
 
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Kellie, GOOD post!!!  I've used an e-collar for many years training bird dogs and it is an invaluable tool.  I had one male dog that was very stubborn with chasing deer.  I used the e-collar to break him from that habit over the course of about three weeks.  We had deer that would feed in our pasture in the evenings and I would turn him out to run and exercise at the same time.  I started off with low stimulation and worked up to the point where he didn't want to run deer any more.  Never said a single word to the dog and he associated the stimulation to the deer and not me. 

I've had English Setters for many years now and while not an aggressive breed at all, they love birds.  My current girl went with me every day to collect eggs.  She would go in the coop and then in the chicken yard, but never once chased or harmed one of the birds.  I introduced her gradually to the chickens while wearing a leash and when she would show behavior other than what I wanted from her I simply told her "NO".  She caught on very fast and actually loved going to the coop with me.
 
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Location: San Martin, CA
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My horse pasture is fenced off with 5' high no-climb fence with a 4'high meshed pipe gate.  My Aussie can't get into there without me opening it up.  His drive is definitely more of a herding and play drive with my horses and cats, but I will be getting chickens soon.  He certainly will be on a leash when I introduce them to him!

Your dog could probably be rehormed to a more suburban home without small children. I know plenty of people with German Shephards in their suburban backyard, and will take the time to exercise and get the appropriate training.  Secure fencing should be the rule.  At least he won't have livestock around to tempt him.  The cats just probably avoid the yard once they figure out there's a nasty dog living in it.
 
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From hard experience, I would say keep working animals, not pets.

If a dog can work, that is protect your home and livestock, great. Training them from an early age is the most surefire way to do this.

If they endanger your animals or your neighbours' animals, or especially children, get rid of them. Either find a new home for them with understanding people, keep them securely chained up/penned or end their life in the most humane way possible. If you don't do it, there is a good chance that someone else will. I haven't always followed this advice myself, and frankly I regret it. I have lost livestock to other people's dogs running around unleashed ("good dogs" which have "never done anything like this before" etc.), and my own dogs have harmed animals too.

Dogs CAN be man's best friend. In this situation they can be your worst enemy. I once had to euthanise a goat which had its udders ripped off, and was terrified and bleeding with three broken legs after being chased off the side of a gulley. It was not my dog, but even if it had been I would not say that my love for that dog outweighed my love for the goat.

They are not the most important animals around, and there are far too many of them in the world, to the point that they are a burden on the environment.

 
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Location: LAKE HURON SOUTHERN SHORE
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chicken forest garden hugelkultur
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"About 9 month back we added to our property 2 baby goats that we were going to start our herd from.  We installed an in ground electric fence to separate the dogs from the area the goats and chickens had.  We knew that they would not get along, and we needed to keep the separate.  The goats and chickens have their own fenced in acre. Everything seemed to be ok until last week we were on vacation and got a call from our friend who was watching the animals for us that she came home to find the dogs in the fenced in area for the goats, and the goats were dead.  We are both heartbroken that the dogs would do that, and we are at a loss of what to do.  We want to continue to follow our passion and keep goats on the property but don't know if that is possible with the dogs at this point."

So
I  have 13acres of organic permaculture  and 8 working Jack Russell Terriers, two rescued Jacks two rescued german shepherds and a rescued blue healer cross.
I'd like to tell you there is a simple answer but there is not.
It can be resolved but it may take more time, energy,  and money than you( or most of us) are willing to spend.
My solution to this very real problem is threefold.
1 I purchased a sizable amount of freestanding construction panels and this is where convicted stock killers spend their unsupervised time.
2 I use remote trainers on these dogs when they are out with me or discretely supervised ( to nip in the bud so to speak) any interest in the at risk stock other than clear obvious avoidance.
3 I start training the working dogs from birth to accept the current livestock (barn cats include) as 'belong here'  It also helps to directly and deliberately 'teach' them what they can kill by taking them rat/vole/possum/coon/groundhog/squirrel hunting regularly to satisfy their terrier instinct.

Having said that, I have been working with my own bloodlines for 10 years and still get some that are genetically untrainable for free run farm work.
These are sold or alternatively kept confined for the safety of the stock.
A professional dog behaviorist might be able to help but I expect it would be a very large undertaking.
Kenneling the dogs would be kindest and safest for all. In my opinion


 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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I hope you haven't gotten rid of your dogs yet.  I have had remarkable success controlling my wild rescue dog with a "shock collar".  There are two settings, the first being just a vibration.  I have never had to shock my dog--vibrations alone stop her.  Any unwanted behavior can be extinguished in a few minutes.  They're only about $30 on Amazon.

Don Eggleston
 
Kellie Cruz
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Don Eggleston wrote:I hope you haven't gotten rid of your dogs yet.  I have had remarkable success controlling my wild rescue dog with a "shock collar".  There are two settings, the first being just a vibration.  I have never had to shock my dog--vibrations alone stop her.  Any unwanted behavior can be extinguished in a few minutes.  They're only about $30 on Amazon.

Don Eggleston



E-collars are great but I just want to put this out there again in a shorter post.....If you do not know what you are doing......PLEASE...do ALOT of research first OR consult a pro. E-collars are not an easy tool and if your timing is off you can have the dog associate the stim with something else. Once this happens it is VERY hard to correct. Also, please look up how you should INTRODUCE the collar before you start using it in training. A good keyword is "collar-wise" for google. I also would not reccomend buying a cheap collar. Spend the $100, get something american made with multiple settings and will last you a lifetime. I reccomend the "Educator" brand.


Here is a GREAT reference site for training working dogs- Leerburg.com

Please be careful guys and DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!!! Else you run the risk of worsening the problem or causing a new one....
 
Walt Chase
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Very much agree Kellie.  Get help if you are not confident in your abilities to train with an e-collar.  One can do more "damage" in just a few minutes than can be overcome with months of retraining.  Mentioning becoming collarwise is awesome.  Easy mistake to make and hard to break as well. My dogs always loved wearing it as they knew they were going to get to either run or hunt.  I suggest Tri-tronics collars.  Only reason is because I have many years of good results, long life and great customer service out of the ones I have had.  Collar Clinic is also a good place to check for used and refurbished units at discounted prices.
 
Whatever you say buddy! And I believe this tiny ad too:
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